Tag Archive for: healing

Basil Tea

Armodoxy for Today: Basil Tea

One of the customs around the September celebration of the Holy Cross, is to pass out basil to the congregants. The feast is called the “Exaltation” or “Elevation” of the Holy Cross, recounting that the Holy Cross of Jesus was imprisoned by enemies of Christianity. When the Cross was recovered (7th century) it was raised in a procession to proclaim its freedom from captivity. Today, in the Armenian Church, the symbolic procession takes place, where a cross is elevated along with basil. As tradition tells us, when the Cross of Christ was found there was basil growing all around it. Contrary to what has been propagated by popular folk myth, there is no such thing as blessing basil on this feast. The basil merely is placed on the altar, decorating the altar crosses as a connection with the story of its loss and recovery.

The blessing that does take place is a product of the power of the Holy Divine Liturgy. This special mystical power of the Liturgy is not spoken about often enough. During the Holy Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, prayers are offered, the saints of the Church are remembered and asked to intercede for us, the sacred hymns from early centuries are chanted and sung, and the request of the faithful assembled are voiced or voicelessly heard, and the Holy Spirit is invoked to transform the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Presence of Jesus Christ Himself is at the Divine Liturgy! And so, in the Presence of Jesus Christ all become blessed and cleansed. Even more, the same Divine Liturgy has been celebrated in the church for years, decades and in some places for centuries. The incense which carries the prayers up to heaven, has been absorbed into the church walls, along with the prayers and hymns. Your parents, your grandparents, your great grands and theirs are all part of this celebration. The small piece of basil sitting on top of the altar, and everything in the Presence of God has now been blessed.

Early on in my ministry when I was serving at a parish in Cupertino, California one of the young men in our church succumbed to an illness which incapacitated him. He was hospitalized and went unconscious. The doctors did not know what to make of it. They administered tests but were confounded. They began feeding him intravenously because he no longer was accepting anything by mouth. His father, a devout and believing man notified me and asked that I pray for his son.

It was the Feast of the Cross and I was speaking to my grandmother on the phone. She was the greatest influence on my life. She lived two doors down from our house while growing up and since taking this pastorate in Cupertino, there were now 400 miles that separated us. But thanks to telephones – yes, landlines with dials – I’d stay in touch and would call her regularly, especially either before or after church services. That Sunday, we spoke and in the conversation I mentioned the plight of this young boy. As I spoke about him, I recalled that his father was from Los Angeles and, in fact, lived in the same neighborhood as my grandmother. I told her who he was and of course, she knew him and his family.

Without hesitation, she told me to take the basil from the Holy Divine Liturgy, boil it in water and take the “Basil Tea” to the boy in the hospital.

I did exactly as she told me. I put Basil Tea in a thermos. It was old-school, with the shiny glass innards and the plaid exterior with a screw-on cup on top. I rushed it to the hospital and kept it concealed under my raincoat. Yes, there was a degree of embarrassment walking into a modern hospital with an ancient remedy prescribed by granny.

At the hospital, we prayed and I gave tea to his father to administer to the boy. The tea was the first liquid (or solid) to enter his mouth in nearly two weeks.

The next morning I received a call. It was his father telling me that his son had come-to. He finished the thermos of tea and was now starting solids. The doctors and medical staff were amazed and dumbfounded.

The basil was definitely blessed, but so was everything else in the church. It is a simple lesson that Jesus teaches us, that life itself is a blessing. The sacred and holy are all around us, only asking us to acknowledge, not with a nod, but by living the blessing.

Let us pray, O Lord, Jesus Christ. You came to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. Each of us, with our baptism through the Holy Font have become members of the Kingdom. Today I pray the prayer of the Holy Apostles, “Increase our faith” so that we may be worthy members of Your Kingdom, to see the Blessings that are around us. Amen.

Cover Photo: Courtesy of Vahe Sargsyan

The Supernatural Within

Armodoxy for Today: The Supernatural Within

Continuing our journey through Armodoxy, we bring the supernatural home today. If we put away our prejudices, and keep the ego in check, we find it easier to see the supernatural in daily occurrences, whether in the pollination of a flower, the amazing structure a duckling’s tail feather, or the supernatural occurrence healing of the physical.

When we look at the metaphor of the Vine and the branches which Jesus articulates, “I am the vine and you are the branches… you cannot bear fruit without being connected to the vine,” we find a natural progression of events. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is not connected to the vine! Yes, obviously. It’s so natural that it is a given, not even necessary to mention. But our “dull faculties” (Einstein’s words) have become conditioned to the point that we doubt the obvious, and so we must repeat it for clarity. Jesus should not have had to give this lesson in agricultural botany to a group of people who cultivated the land for their livelihood, but he did. Now imagine how much more we need to, and must, reiterate matters with which we are not familiar.

In the last century (and those of you following this series will know why I place the time as such), in my first parish I had a young lady named Leslie, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The diagnosis was devastating enough, without learning of the many horrible and frightening treatments she would endure to fight this disease and with no certainty of winning that battle. Within our parish community the word spread quickly, and we were all in various degrees of anguish. She was a mother of a beautiful daughter who was too young to realize what lurked ahead for mom. Her husband, stoic at the news, but ever so supportive and determined to overcome the cancer. We braced for the worst with members of our church even discussing how to take care of the little child in her mother’s absence.

That Sunday, as all Sundays, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy and distributed the Holy Eucharist. After church services, Leslie approached me. She told me – not asked me – “I received Holy Communion today. It is the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.” I nodded my head, yes, you did. She continued, “Well, if Jesus Christ is within me, what cancer can survive inside of me? There is no place for that cancer!”

She said this with such conviction and strength. I picture her face saying this to me to this day and my eyes water as I swell up with emotion thinking about it. If Jesus Christ is inside of me, what business does cancer have within me? Yes! That’s exactly what she said.

Leslie went on to live. She and her husband brought two more beautiful daughters to this world and through the years, we stay in touch, even if only for a Christmas card, with pictures of the family growing and flowering. Even more, she is forever connected to me through the “Vine” that connects us all. Her story has helped me through some of my worst days, and I share it with others, not only to offer hope, but to change our perception of the supernatural to natural.

What we call Supernatural is natural, normal, for those who exist in a different plane of understanding. That plane is not that far away. It is no different than perceiving heaven here on earth. The exercise of losing ego and the dropping of the prejudices we harbor against the miracles of life bring us closer to that reality.

We pray today from St. Nersess Shnorhali’s prayer of the evening hours, “Gracious Lord, commit me to a good angel, who may guide my soul in peace, and carry it undisturbed through the wickedness of evil to heavenly places. Amen.”

Applied Theodicy

Armodoxy for Today

Applied Theodicy

We have dedicated this week of Advent to exploring theodicies, that is, what does it mean to believe in a good and just God, especially in the face of evil. We were prompted by the lesson of the week from Luke 13.

Today, we apply theodicy and decipher a practical theodicy. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” We begin to understand ourselves as part of a process, part of God’s royal family, and in so doing we begin to understand that the kingdom is not about prestige and honor but about accepting a responsibility of being human and created in the image of God. In other word, solutions that are found outside of us, reduce or nullify a very important component of our humanity, namely the ability to interact and share in the love is God. We pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is more than a wish, it is the understanding that we are the inhabitants of earth and therefore, if His will is to be done, it is with our participation.

The world around us is filled with the much pain, and suffering is everywhere. The evil we experience in life has many causes, some brought about by people, others by life circumstances. The Christian is called to be Christlike. Jesus came across people who were suffering from illness as well as those in deep pain over losses brought about by tragedies in life. He reached out, comforted, healed and restored. We would like to do the same, of course, but are not confident of our ability to do so because we are overwhelmed with the magnitude of evil in our lives.

Reach out. Comfort. Heal. Restore.

Applied theodicy is about applying what we have learned as an answer to evil. Before Jesus healed and restored, he reached out and comforted. Reaching out is the first step a Christian is called to do, and each of us is capable to doing so.

During the Advent Season, we have a very special evening dedicated to the remembrance of one of the greatest evils, namely the death of children. On the second Sunday in December, we gather and remember those who have passed before their time to live. “Children’s Memorial Day” is an opportunity to come together, offer ourselves, and bring semblance in a time of disaster. For a parent that has lost a child, whether to illness or to accident, comforting them may seem impossible, so then begin with the first step, reach out. It is simple action that mimics the actions of our Lord. He reached out. Comfort will follow and begin to understand how God uses people, in this case you, to bring about healing and restoration. You begin to understand that indeed the Kingdom of God is within you, and as a member of that Kingdom you are honored with responsibility.

Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

We are only half-way through Advent, and already the pieces are coming together. Each day builds on the lessons of the previous day. To be Christlike is to accept responsibility to overcome the hardships, the evil, of this world.

We pray, the words taught to us by Christ, “Our Father who is in heaven, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory. Amen.”

We continue our Advent Journey next time and I look forward to doing so with you.

Advent Adventures

Next Step #756 – December 1, 2022 – First steps toward the mystery of God’s revelation at Christmas, here is the Advent primer. Einstein mathematics: 50 days hath Easter as does Christmas. Jesus’ warning on the “fool.” New series on Epostle with Dr. Ani exploring monasteries. Armodoxy you won’t find in a museum. Healing at Christmas. Alchemy for Armenia: Jewelry to benefit Etchmiadzin renovation project. In His Shoes: How Jesus sees us. All on this episode.
Cover: Dog with Christmas Tree, EnvatoElements
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for https://Epostle.net
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Armodoxy for Today

In the parable of the “Prodigal Son” (Luke 15), when the wayward boy is reconciled with his father, the servants of the house hear the voice of the father command, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.” In this action, the son would be reconciled completely with his father.

Returning back to physical and/or emotional health – whether following an attack by a virus or after a broken relationship – is a difficult proposition and often, a more difficult process. Along the way, both physical and emotional health may be compromised making full recovery next to impossible.

The recovery granted to us by God is complete and full. By looking inward, we discover our weaknesses and count our strengths. The delicate balance between the two is defined by our perception, attitude, and our ability to communicate with God.

Begin with prayer, “Christ, you are the growing fire, inflame my soul with the fire of your love, which you have shed on the earth, that it may consume the stains of my soul, clear my conscience, purify my body from sin, and kindle in my heart the light of your knowledge. Amen.” (Shnorhali #10)

Missing Link of Revenge

Next Step #438: Revenge is sweet they say, but never like this. It comes in the form of answering the Armodoxy puzzle and providing a missing link to the equation of love. It all comes down to patience: watch out instant-grats! Also – Prayer of healing, Naregatzi. American politics – voting for the lesser of two evils doesn’t make it right. It never has – or so we experiment and find out. The ethnic vote – Antonovich’s miscalc.
Zinvori Mayr by Shoushan Petrosyan
Narekatzi Prayers
Accident in Palm Springs
Faith of the Centurian
Next Step #282 – Halloween Edition
Embracing Faith Conference – Save the Date
Photo: Pumpkin Patch, Pomona 2016
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Contempo Roads

Next Step #400: The 400th episode includes steps to relevance, a quick round up of a clergy conference; Sts.Vartan and Ghevont – stories and the guard; Healing via the creative power; Kicking off the Lenten Season; Comparing with Jews, Greeks and Blacks – beyond prejudice; links to much more.
Song: Gomidas Divine Liturgy (Western Diocese)
Hitchcock’s Twist to Vartanantz: (NS#143)
AC101 – Videos
Lenten Journey
Lenten “A Bland Page”
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Clergy Conference
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Subscribe to In His Shoes » Next Step with Fr. Vazken by Email
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand! 

Moving Mountains before the End of Time

Next Step #154 – May 19, 2011

The “healing” Gospel of the Armenian Church: Mark 11 is explored in the context of the rites of the Armenian Orthodox Church. (Explained: Mashdotz/Mayr & Hayr Mashdotz) Jesus gives a lesson of mind over matter and the ability to shift off of the physical plane. Mother Teresa is there to follow: “I know God will not give me anything I cannot handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me this much.” End of World predictions for this Saturday, May 21, are you (getting) prepared? Jehovah’s Witness beat Armenian Priest: http://hetq.am/eng/news/1252/
Letter from Eh Wear: www.ehwear.org
Music by John Bilezikjian “Medax Tashginag”
Ani’s Bubble – Positive Attitude.
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
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